Personal and Educational Growth through Service Learning

by Griffin Davis ’22 EE

In Madagascar, Villanova Engineers helped implement a water management training program.
In Madagascar, Villanova Engineers helped implement a water management training program.

Service learning is integral in the education of Villanova Engineers. As such, many students set out to help communities across the globe through opportunities such as VESL, the Villanova Engineering Service Learning program. VESL allows Villanova engineering students to adopt a role in a project developed by one of the program’s partners around the world.

This semester, 35 undergraduates, 13 graduate students and four faculty members are participating in VESL outreach programs involving field work. During fall break, teams traveled to Madagascar, Ghana, Tanzania and Panama to help train local water operators, conduct research on sustainable development, and provide technical support for community development.

In Madagascar, Villanova Engineers helped implement a water management training program.
In Madagascar, Villanova Engineers helped implement a water management training program.

In helping others, Villanova engineering students receive a unique education and grow personally. Here are some recent travelers’ thoughts:

“The people of Madagascar live on the other side of the planet. They don't grow up speaking the same language, having the same childhood experiences or eating the same foods as Americans. Our country is called ‘developed’ and their country is called ‘developing.’ It is easy to point out the many differences, but when our eyes meet I know that we are the same. Our society leads one to believe there is a group of ‘us’ here and ‘them’ outside our borders. Traveling reveals that there is only one human family.”

“My eyes were opened to a new way of life, new foods, new languages and new people, which helped me grow as a person and become more worldly. I know that the way we live in America isn't the only way to live. Everyone around the world has their own cultures and ways of doing things and everyone else needs to respect that! This trip was amazing and I am so grateful for the experience and everything I learned. I have a much clearer idea of what I want to do in the future, which is super exciting and encouraging.”

“I realized the true impact that we can have as engineers.”

Over winter break, VESL teams will work with partners in Ecuador, India, Indonesia and Cambodia on projects related to STEM outreach, water resources management and renewable energy.

Through December 1, a crowdfunding campaign is accepting donations to provide scholarships for student travel to these international communities.